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Prince Saved My Life

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Prince Rogers Nelson, that purple-loving pint-sized bundle of musical virtuosity, died today. As with the rest of the world I mourn his passing. His music was the soundtrack to my first year of college. My college friend, Amy, and I would sit in my room at our small Southern liberal arts women’s college listening to his albums over and over and over – dapurplerain_124pyxurzncing and singing and feeling ever so naughty (have you ever READ some of his lyrics? Sex. Sex. Sex.) Together, she and I must have seen his movie Purple Rain about 20 times in the theatre. Amy even had her hair cut in that curly asymmetrical style he rocked in the movie. I practically lived in a black cape, like the one his love interest in the film wore. For two girls who felt out-of-place in that small Southern town, he gave us some weird sort of strength. Well, at least for me there was a reason for the strength he gave me.

You see, a few weeks before I left for college and met Amy, Prince indirectly saved my life.

As I have written before, in my senior year of high school I was in a terrible, horrible, emotionally abusive relationship. He kept me under his thumb by making threats as to what he would do to himself if I ever left. And because of some odd sense of responsibility for his well-being, I put up with it all and I stayed. I felt so small. So helpless. So powerless. But, that’s how those kinds of relationships work, isn’t it? There is always one with all the power and one with none.

But, despite all the emotional turmoil he put me through on a daily basis, he hadn’t hit me. That’s what I told myself on a daily basis to justify his behavior. It could be worse. He could have hit me.

In late July 1984, just a few short weeks before I was to leave for college, Purple Rain hit the theaters. Opening weekend, the abusive jerk and I went to see it (I had to pay because, well, I had to pay for everything because the idiot couldn’t hold a job, but I digress). He didn’t want to go, but I somehow convinced him, and as long as I was paying, he grudgingly agreed.  I loved the movie. Oh, sure, the acting isn’t the best. And the story is weak. But, the music. THE MUSIC! Amazing. BTW – the abusive jerk hated it. Quelle suprise.

About half way through the movie, there is a scene when “The Kid” (Prince himself) slaps his girlfriend, Apollonia, to the ground.

A shock ran through me. I had an epiphany. Right there, in the middle of the movie, I turned to my abuser and said, “If you ever hit me, even once, I will leave you. I promise I will.” Of course, he said he wouldn’t. And a small part of me wanted to believe him. Really. I did.

It wasn’t long – a week maybe – until he backhanded me, sent me backwards into a bathtub where I whacked the back of my head, and passed out for a moment. When my vision cleared, I climbed out of the tub, gathered my things, and walked out the door. Never to look back again.

You see, I made a promise – to myself and to him – that I would never let that happen. So, I left.

Even now, thirty-two years later, I am positive that if I had not made that promise and if I had not walked out, I probably would have died in that relationship.

I am still not sure what gave me the courage to look at my abuser in the middle of that movie and draw my line in the sand, but I did.

Maybe I was caught up in the music.

So, thank you, Prince. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the memories. But, most of all, thank you for saving my life.

Rest in peace, our sweet Prince. See you in that world of never ending happiness – the after world.

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Crossroads

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I am standing at a crossroads.

Unsure as to which path to choose.

One path leads to a familiar land.

A land once filled with joy.

But, in more recent times, it is a land consumed with anger and frustration.

The other path is completely unknown.

I have no idea where it leads.

One false step and I lose everything.

Or, by choosing that path –

That path to uncertainty –

I could find myself

On the road

To

Happiness.

Happy Birthday

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Yesterday was my mother’s birthday.  And with all the craziness of the past couple of days (you know, what with the break-in and all), I failed to mention it when I dropped the monkeys off at her house yesterday morning.  Not exactly a stellar moment. I was well on my way to work when I remembered and gave her a quick call to send birthday greetings.  She was in the car, on her way back to her house after taking the Girl Child to school to then pick up Monkey #1 to then take him to school.

You see, that’s what she does. She ferries the monkeys for me on my days with them. Well, that’s just one of the things she does. She does ever so much more for me – for all the monkeys – and I am afraid I don’t let her know how much we all appreciate it.

Among the many things she does, she:

Is a chauffeur for the monkeys. She takes them to school.  She picks them up from school. She takes them to the doctor and to the orthodontist. She takes the Girl Child to dance three days a week. She puts miles and miles on her car every week – and never asks for gas money.

She is the homework manager.  She keeps track of missing assignments and project due dates and science fairs and…and…and…well, everything.

She is a teacher. When it was decided that the Middle Monkey had not transitioned well to middle school and perhaps needed to try on-line learning,  she has stepped out of her retirement and is serving as his learning coach. She spends all day cajoling an at times quite reticent (and quite loud about it) 12 year-old to complete his tasks. She is having to relearn high school algebra (yes, he was placed in a math class 2 grade levels above his own), just so she can assist him. I know it hasn’t been fun, but she’s doing it – for him. Because he needed it.

She is my errand runner. Dropping off prescriptions, dropping off the dry cleaning, picking up things I might need from the store but forgot to get.

She is a Dance Nonna. She takes care of all things dance related for the Girl Child. Other than ferrying her to class, she makes sure there are tights and shoes and costumes and rehearsal schedules.

She’ll bring us dinners and does the laundry and sometimes even surprise me by cleaning my kitchen.

Why, you might ask, does she do these things?  Well, because she wants to help and to feel the she matters.

And, yes. I repaid her by forgetting her birthday.

Ugh.

So, my sweet Momma. Our sweet Nonna Monkey. Thank you for all you do for me. Thank you for all you do for us. I know there are times when I don’t express how very much I appreciate you. I know there are times when I seem annoyed. But, I could not manage my life or the lives of The Monkeys without you. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Happy birthday.

I love you.

You Can’t Take That Away From Me

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 We were robbed.

I mean that in the literal sense. Not in the idiomatic “We were robbed” after one’s favorite team has lost (yes, FSU, I’m talking to you).

I mean our home, Happy Monkey Land itself, was broken into, searched, and had things removed from it. Someone we do not know smashed a window, crawled through, slinked through our safe haven, rifled through our drawers, and took our THINGS.

I know we were lucky.

We could have been home. But, we weren’t. We were at our respective schools.

We could have walked in on the offender. But, we didn’t. We came home to discover the broken carport door window, well after the event.

We could have walked in to find everything we own had been loaded into a truck and carried away. But, we didn’t. We are missing only the electronics the offender could load into the backpack he found in my room and carry out with him.

The Wii, the games, the girl child’s DS, my camera, and yes – even my laptop – can all be replaced. The THINGS can be replaced. But, yet, I mourn.

I mourn that someone, some criminal, touched my things. I am tempted to burn all the panties that had been in my top drawer, but were carelessly tossed to the floor, all because he touched them whilst looking for hidden gems. (Thank you, Mr. Burglar, for leaving my vintage silver jewelry collection)

I mourn the pictures “saved” in my laptop. Pictures of our past two and a half years. Pictures of birthdays and special events and field trips. Pictures of our vacation this summer to Washington and New York. Pictures from the vacation my former love and I took with our children. That amazing week on the beach. Not that I looked at those images from that summer. I didn’t. Why dwell? Those pictures were tucked away in their own little folder, but they were there. Visual proof of what we once were to each other. And while I no longer mourn the loss of the relationship, the fact that I no longer have that proof, that data, that EVIDENCE, has hit me harder than I ever could have imagined. It is as if it never happened. I have lost them all over again.

But, mostly, I mourn the loss of The Monkeys’ sense of security in their home.

The Girl Child didn’t want to sleep in her own room last night because the offender was in there. He took her DS from off her bed. She made sure I not only reported the DS as being gone, but also its Hello Kitty case. She counted all her American Girl dolls and has proclaimed them all present and accounted for. She wants to inventory the “buddies” on her bed, just in case some rogue stuffed-animal-thief comes and takes THEM, she’ll know what is missing. You, my dear baby girl, know what is important in life.

The Middle Monkey is quieter than usual, none of the trademark arguing with his sister. He quickly ran upstairs to count his books, and check to see if the Kindle and HIS DS were there (everything was, the boys’ rooms were unscathed). He will randomly come up to me and hug me and say, “I hate burglars.” It’s happened about 10 times since yesterday. I understand, baby. Really, I do. So do I.

Monkey #1 has taken it upon himself to be The Man of the House. He has been updating me on the value of all the missing items, especially the missing games, “so we get the right amount back.” He allowed his little sister to sleep on his futon last night, even though what he really wanted was to be left alone. When I came out of my room this morning to let the dogs out, he was standing in his doorway, holding the dowel that keeps his window shut, standing guard. “Just let anyone try to come in.” He has spent the day with his Nerf gun always by his side, threatening to “shoot in the brain anyone who tries to hurt my brother or sister.” My sweet little man. Excuse me. My sweet almost-full-grown-man-who-shouldn’t-have-to-feel-the-weight-of-the-world-on-his-very-narrow-shoulders.

We all took the day off from school today, The Monkeys and I. A day to clean-up and call insurance and make lists of missing items. But, most importantly, a day to heal and cuddle and to try feel comfortable in our own skins again. A day to reclaim Happy Monkey Land as our own.

So, Mr. Burglar, you may have broken our door. You may have taken our things. You may have pawned them for a quick buck. But, Mr. Burglar, you will NEVER take our love for one another. For, you see, we are the Mighty Monkeys of Happy Monkey Land, and no matter what happens to us, no matter what is taken, we will ALWAYS have each other.

No, no. You CAN’T take that away from us.

Not now.

Not ever.

AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!


I swear, today was one of those days when I just want to walk out and not look back.

One of those days when I feel like it doesn’t really matter what I do, I will end up being screwed in the end.

One of those days when I wanted to step outside and scream at the top of my lungs.

One of those days when I wanted to come home, crawl in my bed, pull my comforter over my head, and never come out.

One of those days when it is all too easy to forget why I keep going every day, why I keep giving it my best, why I keep caring.

I am so tired of the politics of it all.

I am so tired of that helpless feeling of being completely out of control.

I am so tired of jumping through hoops that just keep getting higher and higher.

I need to find my joy.

I just have no idea where it is hiding.

Come out, come out, where ever you are.

He Put My Ring In His Pocket!!!


Daily Prompt: Tainted Love..

Ever been dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend? Was it a total surprise, or something you saw coming? Tell us your best worst breakup story. Never been the dumpee, always the dumper? Relate the story of a friend who got unceremoniously kicked to the curb. Change the names to protect the innocent if you must.

I swear, I laughed out loud when I read this prompt.  Loud guffaws.  Tell about a break-up?!?  Hell, this blog was STARTED as a way for me to work through the rambling musings bouncing around in my brain post-break-up with my former love!  I have written mmmaaaannnnyyyy posts about the very subject.  Well, more about the aftermath than of the actual event, but still.  I’ve also written about the end of my marriage.  May haps I should just link my whole damn blog!?

But, I shan’t.  As while those are interesting stories, they are not one of those epic “Oh. My. God.  Are you kidding me?!?” break-up stories.  But, honey, have I got one for you.  Buckle up!

I have mentioned before that I was engaged TWICE in my early twenties, neither of which “took.”  I am not three times divorced.  Just once, thank you very much.

So, here is the story of my break-up with fiancé #1 – AKA Fratboy.

Fratboy and I met my first year of college.  Became engaged my second year, and were planning a wedding the summer I graduated.  Right on schedule.

Fast forward to the summer before my final year.  We were in the homestretch!  10 months before we were to be married!  Life was perfect…or so I thought.

I show back up to school for my senior year, my head full of plans for the future, and a U-Haul trailer full of my stuff.  Fratboy meets me at my dorm to help me unload and to help carry all my things up three flights of stairs.  WHAT A SWEET BOYFRIEND!!!  Was I lucky OR WHAT?!?!?

*snort*

Back and forth we go for 45 minutes.  Everything seemed fine.  We had  spoken the night before and he told me how happy he was I was going to be back the next day and how happy he was that I was going to be back in the same town with him and how much he missed me and loved me.  Blah blah blah.  While I had chattered on about how I had just gotten my ring professionally cleaned and how sparkly it was and how I couldn’t wait for him to see it.  Ah…bliss.

So, here we are on the final trip down the stairs to get a few more things, when about half way down Fratboy says to me, “Hey, let me see the ring.”

I grin and hold my hand out for him to see the sparkle.  “Isn’t it beautiful?!?”

“No, let me SEE it,” he replied.

Being the trusting young thing I was, I slid the ring off my finger and held it out to him to look at.  Makes sense, right?  I mean, we were GETTING MARRIED!!!!!  Weren’t we?

He takes the ring from me, and then…

(ready for it?)

PUTS IT IN HIS POCKET!!!!!

My ring.  It was no longer on my finger.  It was no longer in his hands.  IT WAS IN HIS DAMNED POCKET!!!  What the hell?!?

My two-thirds of a carat heart-shaped diamond on a gold band FREAKIN’ CUSTOM-MADE FOR ME engagement ring WAS IN HIS POCKET!

Ok.  In retrospect, the ring was incredibly cheesy, and I want to go back and slap the shit out of my 20-year-old self for ever loving it in the first place.  But, HE PUT MY RING IN HIS POCKET AND I WANTED IT BACK!

I remember I kinda laughed and said, “Hey!  Give it back!”

“No,” he said.  “I’m going to keep it.  I don’t think I want to do this any more.”

(BTW, gentlemen, “I THINK” is a passive statement.  If you are in the process of breaking up with someone, passive terms do not sugar coat the situation.  Use plain language.  A helpful little hint from me to you.  You are welcome.)

All this happened as we were walking down the three flights of stairs to go back out to the parking lot of my dorm.

At this point I am somewhat hysterical.  Standing, by now, in the parking lot next to my 1974 orange Volvo SOBBING.  He asked if I needed him to bring my things up to my room.

I just answered, “NO!  I WANT MY RING BACK!”

“I’m sorry, but I just can’t do that right now,” and he got in his car and drove away.

Somehow I made it back upstairs and into the arms of my best friends who started calling him every name in the book, and how they never liked him, and how I was better off, etc., etc.

And how right they were.

If I had married him, I know for a fact that I would have either divorced him, or killed him.  Either way, I would not be with him now.

Ironically, he ended up marrying another girl from my college.  She is Facebook friends with several of my Facebook friends.  I can not tell you how badly I want to stalk her pictures and see if she has a cheesy two-thirds of a carat heart-shaped diamond in a yellow gold band engagement ring sitting on her finger.  Just so I can laugh, and know how she was given the ring that was custom-made for ME!

Oh, and to be ever so grateful for the day that Fratboy took it back.

Being a Mother Can Suck


There. I’ve said it. Being a mother can suck.

Please understand, I am not saying that it sucks to be a mother. I love the monkeys with all my heart and soul.  But, there are times when it sucks to be the mommy.

This morning was one of those times.   One of those mornings when I wanted to throw in the towel and just give up.  One of those mornings when I want to call the Monkey Daddy or the Nonna Monkey (my own mother) and admit my defeat and beg for them to simply raise them.  One of those mornings when I found myself envious of the childless.

Even as I write this, I understand how horrible that sounds. I understand there are those who are childless who desperately want to not be.  I understand there are those that due to custody issues would kill to have time with their children. I understand there are those who as they read this are looking up the number for Child Protective Services.

But, I also understand there are those who as they read this are thinking, “Finally!  Someone who has the guts to say it!”

This morning I found myself asking what I had done to deserve this. What kind of bad Karma I had brought upon myself?  What god had I angered to incur such a punishment?  And for how long was I to endure it?

I felt like Nancy Kerrigan, after she had been whacked on the knee, crying out to the heavens, “Why? Why? Why me?”

And the question wasn’t just rhetorical. I really wanted an answer, damn it!

Alas.  None came.  And I am fairly confident none will come.

So, I’ll say it again. Sometimes motherhood sucks.

But, I also know that when the Middle Monkey comes and sits next to me after Sunday School, he will snuggle up next to me, and say in that sweet little lisp, “I am sorry for screaming at you this morning.  I love you.”

And my heart will melt and I once again be reminded how much I love him and all will be right with the world.

At least until the next time.

*sigh*

The Middle Monkey and me, in a time where being a mother did not suck

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Lessons from Sochi


I haven’t written in a while.  Not just here on the blog (to those who followed me, and have missed me, I am deeply sorry), but NOT AT ALL.  It just seemed like the prolific words which flowed off of my fingertips simply vanished.  Nothing.

Ok.  Well, maybe some of it was intentional.  I needed to keep some thoughts private.  And you know me – once I start writing, there ain’t much I keep private.

With that being said, something did come to me tonight.

Like most of the world, I have been watching the Olympic Games in Sochi.  Not that I am a huge winter sports fan, or anything like that.  I mean, I grew up in South Florida, for God’s sake!  I still can’t handle the “cold” of Atlanta!  But, there is something about watching people put on the uniform for their country and “go for the gold” – even if their “gold” is the simple fact that they are in Sochi – and not at home.

And while it is always lovely to see someone win, I am particularly taken by those athletes who don’t.  Those who falter, yet some how manage to pick themselves up and go on.

Jeremy Abbott

During the men’s figure skating short program, one such event happened to a US athlete,  Jeremy Abbott.  He went up for a jump, missed the landing, fell on the ice, skidded about 10 feet and SLAMMED into the wall.  The poor man was obviously in pain.  He laid on the ice for a few moments, clutching his ribs – as his music continued playing.  When he got up off the ice, he appeared to be skating towards the judges to withdraw.  You could see the process running through his mind.  As his music continued playing.  But, then the most amazing thing happened.  The audience started cheering him on, encouraging him to continue.   And he did.  He finished his program.  Oh sure, his scores weren’t great, but he finished.  And the next night, he set a personal best for his long program.

He finished.  In the face of injury.  In the face of the humiliation of lying on the ice in front of the world.  He finished.

Those moments were repeated time and time again during these past two weeks.  Snowboarders who fell from the top of the half-pipe getting back up for their next run.  Bobsled teams flipping their sleds getting back in for the next run.

How many of them wanted to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.  I’m done” and call it a day?

There’s a lesson for me to be learned in this.  To get back up.  To not let that fall, that setback, that disappointment, keep me down.  It is far to easy for me to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.  I’m done, and have no intention of ever doing it again so I won’t get hurt (disappointed, etc.) again.”  Especially when it seems like every time I set foot on to the proverbial ice, I slam into the wall.

Maybe the next time it will be a personal best.

Drowning in the Dating Pool

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Now that I have poked my big toe back into dating pool to test the waters, I have just one reaction.

I hate dating.

There I’ve said it.

I mean I reeeeaaaaallllllyyyyy hate it.

I never was very good at it.  And, unlike a fine wine, it hasn’t gotten any better with age.

The whole process is nerve-wracking.  I meet someone.  We chat on-line.  We text all day.  We talk for hours on the phone.  I am witty.  I am charming.   Everything in going swimmingly.  Everything is clicking.   We decide to meet in person.

*gulp*

The big day arrives.  We text about how nervous we are.  How excited.

And it goes beautifully.  I am witty.  I am charming.

“You are so amazing!  Why are you still single?,” I am asked.

“Such a good question,” I reply as I flash my brightest smile.

The evening ends.  Things feel kinda good.  My head is above water.  I’ve learned to not get my hopes up, but…

More texting.

Discussions about meeting again.  We try to work around kid schedules.

Texts start to get farther and farther apart.

And eventually nothing.

And I know I am about to have to go through this all over again.

This is my cycle.

And frankly it makes me want to get as far away from the dating pool as possible.

It is exhausting to have to go through it over and over and over again.  My psyche is blue and shivering, longing for a thick warm towel to wrap around my shoulders.

I know several people who do not know how to swim, and don’t care to learn.  So, they just avoid any situation where they might be surrounded by water.

So, to continue my metaphor, perhaps I should just remove myself from the pool.  Get far far away.  After all, I can’t drown in the dating pool if I don’t get in.  But, I am not sure that is how I want to live my life.

I’ve already learned to ease my way into the water.  I no longer cannonball off the edge.

Maybe it’s just that I have forgotten how to swim and I need to put back on my floaties.  Or, get a swim instructor.  Or find a new pool.

Somethin’.

Because right now, I hate dating.

Really I do.

Separation Anxiety

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Sharing a silly moment

Sharing a silly moment

The Girl Child is leaving for camp tomorrow.

A week long sleep away camp.

Her first time sleeping away without a family member.

And it will be the longest I have ever gone without seeing her.

Ironically, she is the one who is doing fine.  Granted, she is a little nervous.  After all, she isn’t even 9 yet.  But, she is excited about all of the fun things she will get to do (it’s a performing arts camp – so, she will be in her element).  Just as long as she gets to bring her beloved Kitty Kat, life will be fine.

I, on the other hand, am trying to stay calm.  I am going to miss my Littlest Monkey.  My little doppelgänger.  My little blonde bundle of unbounded energy.  I am going to miss the way she will come up to interrupt me from what ever it is I am doing, and when I send her away – she says, “I just wanted a hug.”  I am going to miss her high-pitched little “Yes, Mommy!” when I ask her to help me make lunch.  I am going to miss how she snuggles up next to me.

Oh, sure, I am NOT going to miss her bossiness.  Nor will I miss her screaming and stomping and slamming whenever I have had the NERVE to ask her to do something she doesn’t want to do.

But, I do know I will spend nearly six days – 140 hours – 8,400 minutes – 504,000 seconds – wondering what she is doing.  If she is homesick.  If she is ok.

I know she will be.

She’s just like that.